Bergan wins District 55 after recount

Bergan wins District 55 after recount

 

Chris DeBack

cdeback@fayettecountynewspapers.com

 

 

On Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 28, the Winneshiek County Supervisors certified the canvass of the recount of Winneshiek County votes in Iowa House District 55 at a special meeting. 

 

After a recount also took place in Clayton County, Michael Bergan is still the winner of the election. He defeated Democrat Kayla Koether unofficially, 6,924-6,915, who had called for a recount in those two counties but didn’t call for a recount in Fayette County. The results will remain unofficial until the state certifies the election on Monday, Dec. 3.

 

Winneshiek County held its recount on Tuesday, Nov. 27. A three-person recount board was assembled with each candidate selecting a representative to the board and then the two board members appointing a third member. Jim Beeghly was appointed by Koether, and Jim Burns was appointed by Bergan. Craig Cutting was appointed by the two other board members.

 

The three-member board then agreed on a process for recounting the votes. It decided that the most efficient way to recount the votes was to use a combination of machine- and hand-counting. The board members split up precinct ballots among themselves to look over and determine whether or not it would be machine-counted or hand-counted. 

 

Voters were asked to fill in a box for the candidate for which they wished to vote. The sheet was then read by the a voting machine once the ballot had been filled out. Ballots that weren’t properly filled out — for example, had an “X” through the oval for a candidate or one candidate’s oval fully shaded in and the other candidate’s oval partially shaded — wouldn’t have been counted by the machine. 

 

Upon review by the recount board, those ballots were hand-counted while the rest were machine-counted. The three-member board looked over the hand-counted ballots and tried to determine for whom the voter had been voting. If the ballot wasn’t clear or if the board couldn’t come to an unanimous decision, it was counted as an undervote. 

 

Originally, Koether won Winneshiek County, 4694-4102, with five write-ins, 107 undervotes, and two overvotes. After the recount, Bergan gained five votes while Koether gained two votes, 4696 to 4107, with five write-ins, 102 undervotes, and no overvotes. 

 

The recount in Clayton County was held on Tuesday, as well. Originally, Bergan won Clayton County, 582-567, with 31 undervotes and one overvote. The recount board determined that Koether would be awarded one vote from the undervotes to make it, 582-568. 

 

“We know that people voted legally, and it is still my position that those votes should be counted,” said Koether after the Winneshiek County Supervisors certified the election. She is referring to absentee ballots that had no postmark when they were received by the Winneshiek County Auditor’s Office after Election Day and, per Iowa Code, couldn’t be counted. 

 

Bergan said he is looking forward to another term in office and getting the 2019 legislative session underway. 

 

Before the Winneshiek County Supervisors voted to certify the election, Winneshiek County Supervisor John Beard spoke about the postmark issue that had arisen. Find out more of what he had to say in the upcoming edition of Fayette County Newspapers. 

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